A Mentor Moment with Robert G. Harvie, KC

March 8, 2023

“While discussing my mentee’s challenges, both legal and practical, it allowed me to reflect upon those same challenges that I continue to have.”

Robert G. Harvie, KC has been a mentor with the Law Society’s Mentor Connect program since 2017. 

Q: Why did you get involved with Mentor Connect?
A: “On the tail-end of my experience as a former Bencher with the Law Society of Alberta, I found I had time to continue giving back to my profession and reflected that I had been very fortunate to have a principal who had provided me with what I would consider an exceptional mentorship in my early years. At the same time, I had some misgivings about the ability I had to make changes on a macro level in our profession, so decided that helping another lawyer on a micro level would be enjoyable. As such, to pay it forward, I chose to volunteer with the program.”

Q: Tell us a bit about your current mentoring relationship(s):
“I am not currently in a formal mentoring relationship. However, my last completed mentor relationship was extremely enjoyable and, I hope, mutually beneficial. My mentee was in the same area of practice and in a smaller community not too far from my own, so it was rather easy to exchange thoughts and ideas about the challenges in our practices.”

Q: How long have you been involved in mentorship?
“Since 2017.” 

Q: What do you enjoy the most about your role as a mentor?
“I would say the realization that the relationship was mutually beneficial. While discussing my mentee’s challenges, both legal and practical, it allowed me to reflect upon those same challenges that I continue to have. The exchanges not only allowed me to pass on my own experience, but helped me focus and spend time considering my own practice and how I could maintain or improve on my abilities as a lawyer, even after 35 years at the bar. An added bonus is that my mentee was a foreign trained lawyer from a very different cultural background. It was very enlightening to learn more about the practice of law in another part of the world and to more fully understand the challenges of coming to a new country and culture in a manner which was so much more personal than learning about it online or though other publications.”

Q: What do you hope your mentees take away from working with you?
A: “I would hope he shared the experience I had in that we are ‘not in it alone’ in the practice, and that while we may in a sense be in competition on files or in seeking clients, on a more fundamental level we are colleagues who are there for each other if and when needed. The demands of clients in our area (family law) are high, and the shifting playing field makes meeting or managing those expectations a daunting task that can lead to an unhealthy work/life balance. My hope would be that in sharing the lessons I have learned in managing a practice after 35 years, I’ve contributed towards him having an enjoyable, productive and less anxious relationship with his profession.”

Q: What have you learned from working with your mentees?
“As alluded to above, I’ve gained insight into the challenges of a foreign-trained lawyer coming from a very different cultural background. Learning about his adaption to our Canadian culture (and weather) was both enjoyable and valuable to my own perspective as a lawyer and citizen of Canada. Also, taking time to share my thoughts and experiences allowed me to focus on my own practice and assisted me in taking time to analyze what I do and how I do it in a way that we don’t often take time to do in our day-to-day practice experience.”

Q: If another lawyer is thinking about becoming a mentor, what should they know beforehand?
“The time requirement is modest and the experience has been clearly positive. I have often talked to other lawyers who express how they already feel overwhelmed in their practice and seek to avoid adding something else to their plate. My advice is to take time out to give back to your profession, particularly on a one-on-one personal level. This is an enjoyable respite from the day-to-day challenge of delivering service to clients. In the bargain, this allows you time to focus on the pragmatic aspects of your own practice that you might not do if you weren’t challenged to share your experiences and lessons learned with a younger lawyer.”

The Law Society of Alberta offers Mentor Moments to acknowledge the contributions made by volunteer lawyers in their mentorship programs and to encourage other Alberta lawyers to consider participating. Read more Mentor Moments.

We do not attempt to verify mentors’ statements in their Mentor Moment profiles and the opinions expressed are solely their own. The Law Society of Alberta does not endorse any individual profiled or contents provided.